Monday, September 30, 2013

Obamacare and the Possible Government Shutdown

So ...we are on the brink of yet another government shutdown.

This time the issue is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which Democrats and Republican agree is a big deal.

The problem is ...that's about all they agree on.

House Republicans twice have sent the U.S. Senate a Continuing Resolution that would keep the federal government funded. The Senate rejected the first C.R., which would have defunded Obamacare; it has not yet voted on the second C.R., which would delay Obamacare for one year and repeal the new tax on medical devices.

The U.S. Senate is President Obama's creature. The Wall Steet Journal suggests Senate Democrats may reject the second C.R., simply to create a crisis that will motivate the base to go to the polls and send the House Republicans packing.

In other words, the Democrats would be willing to risk a government shutdown for political reasons.

Republicans themselves are divided. Some say a government shutdown would, in fact, hurt their chances in the next election; they also say Obamacare is so flawed that it would be better to allow it to go into effect, as scheduled, and become the Democrats' problem in 2014. Others say Obamacare already is harming the economy and slowing the recovery: employers are no longer hiring, or hiring part time workers only, or reducing full time workers to part time. And then there's the budget deficit. They know Obama would likely veto any C.R. that defunds or delays Obamacare, but are determined to proceed anyway, just to make a point.

In other words. the Republicans would be willing to risk a government shutdown for political reasons.

Students of government know that our system has certain built-in tensions, designed to limit extremism: the checks and balances between the branches of government, the two major political parties, and the factions within those parties. Disagreement is not only good, it's essential to good government.

But someone, at some point, has to step up and broker a compromise that both branches, both parties, and most of the factions can live with. If someone doesn't step up, maybe they all should shut up.